What Is Crawl Space Encapsulation?

Encapsulating crawl spaces is the first solution for avoiding indoor moisture and humidity issues in unfinished crawl spaces and basements. To the average person, encapsulation can be compared to the lining added to swimming pools to avoid leaks. A heavy-duty reinforced polyethylene barrier is added to completely cover your crawl space -the floors and foundation walls.

Who Should Consider Crawl Space Encapsulation

Water vapor and excess moisture can cause a multiple problems in your home. Since water vapor can move through concrete, stone, block, and unfinished dirt floor causing damage along the way. Once the moisture enters the space from the ground it will eventually enter into your home as the air you breathe. The damage caused by excess humidity can affect health and the actual structure of the home and must be controlled.

Here are common signs that your crawlspace may need encapsulation: 


Mildew/musty smell in basement

Bowing, Soft or separating floors

High cooling/heating costs

Wet insulation

Sweating windows

Insect problems.


Dehumidifiers in Crawl Space 

Once your space is completely sealed, the final piece of the encapsulation puzzle is conditioning the air to maintain a healthy humidity level. The most common way to do this is by adding a dehumidifier to regulate your crawl spaces moisture level.


This barrier and dehumidifier combination protects the crawl space from excess moisture and all the problems that come along with it.


Crawlspace Safety Tips:

1. Before entering the crawl space, make certain there is no standing water.

If you find standing water, consult with a professional to remove it. Standing water can be a safety issue while working in a crawl space and can lead to possible electrocution.

2. Provide adequate lighting in the space before working.

Crawl spaces tend to be dark, so making sure you have enough visibility when working will help you make sure you haven't missed anything that could later compromise the integrity of the moisture protection system.

3. Prepare the floor area.

Since most crawl spaces will have dirt floors, remove sharp rocks or debris that may damage or penetrate vapor barriers during installation. Bring a bucket to ease the collection process. This is where that adequate lighting will come in handy. If the floor of the crawl space is uneven, flatten and smooth the soil with a rake.  You may even need to consider bringing in more soil or stone to properly grade the floor of the crawl for drainage.

4. Ensure all electrical wiring is free of damage and strapped appropriately.

Strap and reinforce any free hanging ductwork. This makes the area easier to maneuver in during installation and provides better visibility. It also allows greater access to parts of the crawl space that would otherwise be more difficult to get to.

5. Check all plumbing pipes and inspect for signs of leaks or corrosion.

The last thing you want to do is cover up a water pipe that is about to leak. In cases like this, it is best to be preemptive. If you are unsure about the state of a pipe, call a professional and get a second opinion. 

6. Examine all wood, framing, posts, and beams 

Check for wood rot, mold, or damage. Installing a vapor barrier over an already compromised surface is just masking a problem that can rear its head down the road.